Are you tired of paying a fortune on airfare? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking could be the solution to your travel-related problems. It’s a fun way to convert credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives into miles that can then be used to obtain discounted or complimentary flights for your dream destinations. With a little bit of creativity and some insider knowledge, you can travel for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is all about swapping credit card sign-up bonus as well as incentives to earn airline miles. The miles can be used to buy discounted or even free flights. Certain credit cards will also let you redeem miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and building out a frequent flyer mile program on a select group of airlines. When you are ready to book a flight take a look at the price. If the cost is under $300, it’s generally better to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If your flights begin to climb over $500, you’ll need to review those frequent flyer accounts to see which airline can give you the best price. It all comes down to the number of points or miles you have in your travel savings account for each airline.
Begin by Getting Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets of travel hacking? The first step is to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards that provide many benefits and features. It is all dependent on the airline, your habits with spending and what features are important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards that are excellent for travel hacking:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
If you’ve been approved for a credit or debit card, you’ll have to meet the minimum spend limit in order to receive the bonus. Every credit card has its own set of rules, so be sure to look up this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and then using them to book your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your ideas?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to redeem them for some nice vacation! Different credit card providers will have different methods of redeeming your rewards, here are a few examples from some of the ones I’ve had experience with:
Getaway by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re a holder of a Chase cards, you can use your points to redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Through the portal, you’ll get access to nearly every airline and you can use a combination of the points as well as cash in order to pay for your next trip. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t possess enough points for the entire price, you can purchase flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash with any credit card.
Are you tired of paying full price for your flight tickets? Did you not know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option of paying with dollars or points? But, be careful that if you do not have enough points you cannot combine dollars and points for one flight. No worries though, if you’re just a few point short United gives you the option to purchase additional miles.
Looking for a flight within the United States? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue offers a comfortable and enjoyable flight experience , with more legroom and free snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines that allows passengers to book flights using JetBlue dollar or points, however, not both. But, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Be sure to prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca I’m sure you’re pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars in order to meet the minimum spend for credit card bonuses. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share some of our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay for your rent using credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to be charged a fee, typically at least 3%. It could be worthwhile in the long run if the bonus is high enough.
Pay for a medical bill
Another great way to hit the spending limit is to cover an medical bill. If you don’t have any medical bills coming up Ask your family members to pay them for theirs, and they will reimburse you.
Repay a loan
If you’re a borrower, consider making payments on them with an credit card. Just make sure you pay the credit card balance in full so you don’t accumulate more debt.
Ask family members for assistance
Talk to your family and see if they have any large expenses coming up that you can help pay for. Just make sure you trust the person and they understand why you’re taking the initiative.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts using cards from your credit account. This way you can hit that minimum spend and be ready for gift giving. Just make sure you’re not spending more than you were already planning to.
There are a lot of ways to make the most out of the travel credit card and accumulate miles or points that you can spend on the cost of flights or other expenses related to travel. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing the rewards you earn:
Book travel expenses with your credit card
If you’re planning a trip, make use of you travel credit card to book your hotel, flight or rental car, as well as other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the required amount for your credit card bonus as well, but you’ll also earn points or miles for these expenditures.
Use your credit card to pay for your everyday expenses
Another way to meet the minimum spend and earn points is by making use of your credit card for everyday costs. This could include things like gas, groceries or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay off the balance in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
Many travel credit cards offer miles or bonus points for certain types of purchases, like dining or travel. Be sure to review your rewards program on your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Consider a balance transfer
If you are currently in outstanding debt due to a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer that balance to a travel credit card with an introductory rate of 0% for balance transfers. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also aid in achieving the minimum spending requirement for the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points carefully
If you’ve amassed a large amount of points or miles make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Review the rewards program for your credit card, and evaluate the worth of various redemption options. For example you can use points to book a flight directly with the airline could provide you with a greater return than using them for an gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer rewards to different loyalty program. This allows you to have a wider range of choices and more freedom when it comes to redeeming your rewards. For example, you may be able to transfer your rewards to an airline’s frequent flyer program or a Hotel rewards programme. This will give an access greater selection of hotels, flights and other travel benefits that may not be offered through your credit card’s rewards program.
In addition, you should discover if your credit card offers certain benefits that will help you save money on travel costs. Many cards offer travel insurance as well as rental car insurance baggage protection and other benefits that could be extremely valuable when you’re traveling.
If you’re traveling with someone else and both of you earn rewards using your credit card. Be aware that you cannot divide the cost with the same card and make sure you keep track of your rewards in a separate manner.
In the end, the most important thing to do to making the most of your travel rewards is to understand the rewards program of your credit card and make sure you’re making use of this program in the most effective way possible. By using an array of methods I’ve described in this article, you’ll be able get rewards in a short time, use them for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad range of travel perks.